The Blackhawks became the third NHL team to partner with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) on Tuesday, announcing that the franchise would host a weekend pair of games in Chicago on March 6-7 as part of the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour.
On Saturday, March 6, a 2 p.m. game will be played at the United Center that will be televised on the NBC Sports Network and feature several women on the broadcast crew including play-by-play announcer Kate Scott, analyst AJ Mleczko and Kathryn Tappen as the host.
The PWHPA roster is comprised of about 125 players and was “formed to advocate for and advance equity, fairness and opportunity in women’s professional hockey,” according to the statement released by the Blackhawks. That roster includes several standouts from the most recent Olympic teams for both Team USA and Canada, including Kendall Coyne Schofield, a Palos Heights native in Chicago’s southwest suburbs who is the Blackhawks first female player development coach and is expected to play in the showcase.
Blackhawks president of business operations Jamie Faulkner said in a statement:
“The Blackhawks are thrilled to once again welcome the PWHPA into our home campus, the United Center and community ice rink Fifth Third Arena, as they bring the exciting and competitive women’s game to a national audience from Chicago. The outpouring of support from across the nation that both Kendall and I received after recently joining the Blackhawks organization shows that women having a seat at the table matters. Girls and young women, including my own daughters, are increasingly seeing themselves as part of our sport’s future, and we hope to sustain that momentum and visibility through this important partnership with the PWHPA and beyond.”
The game will take one place just shy of the one-year anniversary of NBC Sports’ historical broadcast of a game between the Blackhawks and Blues on March 8, 2020 that featured the first-ever all-female crew to broadcast an NHL game.
The tour will also travel to at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 28 for a game hosted by the New York Rangers. The tour also has a partnership with the Maple Leafs, although government restrictions due to the pandemic have prevented a game from being scheduled in Toronto. According to the statement from the PWHPA, additional games will be added.
For more information on what the PWHPA is, this thread from hockey reporter Marisa Ingemi provides some additional context:
It's a lot - essentially the PW is a group of players, mostly national team level, who have elected not to play in the NWHL because they believe there should be a more sustainable option. What that is isn't entirely clear; players aren't paid right now. https://t.co/OIkTovF9zr— Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi) February 16, 2021
The PWHPA is player-driven, but they've brought in a lot of money from sponsors now so for me, the hope is we see some compensation for all players, especially during a pandemic. Getting a national broadcast platform is a gigantic step though.— Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi) February 16, 2021